Meet the candidates: Arundel and South Downs

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Today, candidates for the Arundel and South Downs constituency have their say on why they should be elected:

Peter Grace: UKIP

Honoured to have been selected as your UKIP Parliamentary candidate for Arundel & South Downs, in the general election, I am Peter Grace an ex-Royal Naval submarine engineer and now an IT delivery manager with a British global defence company.

My wife Anne and I are local, involved in our community and passionate about preserving and improving, without destroying everything that is good about Arundel & South Downs, ‘the soul of West Sussex’.

I am not a ‘politician’, I am standing because this historically diverse and influential country, Great Britain, is being squandered by our current elitist ruling class. The Conservative, Lib Dem and Labour parties are indistinguishable from each other, all totally out of touch with our lives, jobs and problems as they squabble over ‘the centre ground’, while telling voters they are different.

I am standing as a totally disillusioned ex-Tory to provide a real, local, political alternative.

If you believe in true localism; where you and I take responsibility, at county level, for planning, health and our children’s education – if you believe your MP should be your representative in government – if you believe in low taxes and that the world is bigger than the undemocratic, ‘United States of Europe’, then come with me and together you and I will work to give us back our country and our democracy.

You and I can protect and improve our glorious Downs and green fields from irresponsible profiteering and the current government’s, ‘presumption in favour of developers’. We can provide homes and opportunities for local people with affordable housing, responsible development on brown field sites and encouraging our local small businesses to thrive. We can ensure our government’s priorities are changed from providing billions of pounds to third world dictators, and countries with their own space programs, to protecting Queen, country and us.

To ensure spending increases on defence, policing and front line health provision.

We can ensure our country and our taxes are not given away to buy SNP votes, just so you and I can be ignored for another five years. We can ensure our voice is heard in Westminster.

UKIP is the positive voice of ordinary people and acts, genuinely in the interests of the many, not the few.

Change the status quo and vote UKIP in May. Find out more and contact Peter at www.YourVoiceInWestminster.co.uk

Nick Herbert: Conservative

In the last ten years as MP for the fantastic constituency of Arundel & South Downs I have done my utmost to support local communities.

I travel throughout the constituency, which covers 250 square miles, to meet individuals, businesses and local organisations. I have helped hundreds of constituents through my regular ‘advice surgeries’, and I personally responded to some 20,000 emails in the last parliament alone.

Protecting our villages and market towns: Our communities have already grown significantly and there is pressure on local infrastructure.

I have spoken out strongly about the need to protect the countryside and promote localism.

Backing local communities on fracking: Shale oil or gas has the potential to be an important new domestic energy source, but wells must be sensibly located.

The beautiful countryside of West Sussex must not be carelessly industrialised.

Fighting for improved transport links: After I lobbied for A27 improvements the Arundel bypass and upgrades through Worthing were announced. I am president of the West Sussex Rail Users Association and have fought for better rail services.

Winning better broadband in West Sussex: I convened a broadband summit in West Sussex which resulted in the Government and county council announcing a plan for 95 per cent superfast coverage by Spring 2017.

An experienced local voice: I was first elected MP for Arundel & South Downs in 2005 and live in Arundel.

Supporting public services: Before becoming an MP I ran the respected independent think tank Reform, and was Minister for Policing & Criminal Justice in the last Government.

Passionate about the community and local villages: I helped to set up the Countryside Movement, which became the Countryside Alliance.

Backing Britain: I was chief executive of Business for Sterling and launched the successful ‘no’ campaign against Britain joining the euro.

Helping charities: I work with international groups combatting tuberculosis, and support many local groups and charities. I am proud to be Patron of St Barnabas House, vice-president of the West Sussex Community Minibus Association, patron of the Mary How Trust for Cancer Prevention and vice-president of the Wey & Arun Canal Trust.

Working hard for local people: I will continue to do everything I can to support local the local community, because it is a privilege to be elected to represent the Arundel & South Downs constituency and I will never forget that I work for you.”

Shweta Kapadia: Liberal Democrats

I have been a leading district councillor in Surrey since 2000.

In the council, I have been appointed chairman of a planning committee for the last ten years, vice chairman of the local plan working group which oversees the formulation of council planning policy and I am the council’s design and historic environment champion.

For eight years I was a council-nominated director of a housing trust and I am a member of the council’s affordable housing member panel which oversees the delivery of affordable housing in the borough.

I have advocated and supported the arts through my work as Council Member of Arts Council England South East for six years and the R C Sherriff Trust on which I continue to serve.

I trained as an architect in India and worked on multi-million pound industrial projects, master plans and designs for a township, and a boarding school as well as smaller projects both in India and the UK.

As a councillor, I have run campaigns to save a post office, for better public transport, for road safety measures, particularly around schools and for fairer school admissions criteria in my area.

I have fought against inappropriate development.

Whilst more houses are needed, I am against developments which have an adverse impact on the existing character of an area, and its infrastructure. I will support policies which deliver adequate affordable housing in sustainable locations and better public transport, particularly in rural areas.

I am committed to protecting the green belt and will fight policies which threaten the South Downs National Park.

I fully support the A27 Arundel by-pass but will seek to ensure that its impact on the environment is minimal.

I will support policies which address the effects of climate change. Liberal Democrats in government have kept the environment at the top of the agenda and propose five new green laws: a nature bill, a green homes bill, a zero waste bill, a zero carbon bill, and a green transport bill.

I am against ‘NHS sell-off’ to the private sector. So far, only the Liberal Democrats have committed to funding the extra £8billion the health service needs as set out by NHS England’s chief executive.  

I have a proven track record for representing the interests of my local community and will ensure the same in Parliament for the residents of Arundel and South Downs.

Isabel Thurston: Green

Barnham mother-of-two Isabel Thurston is standing for the Green Party in Arundel and South Downs in the May elections.

Having known West Sussex all her life, she has a great love for this beautiful area and hopes to give residents the opportunity to find out more about Green policies that could improve life in many ways.

“We are committed to making society fairer, putting the real needs of people before profit,” said Isabel.

“The Green Party believes that we should fully fund our public services and firmly opposes any privatisation of the NHS.

“We also believe that education should be a right and so we would end university tuition fees.”

The most urgent issue of all for the Green Party is climate change.

The party urges politicians to grasp the nettle; currently the government has signed up for international greenhouse gas reduction targets but is continuing to promote the extraction of fossil fuels.

Isabel said: “We are now told that we need to leave 82 per cent of carbon fuels in the ground in order to meet our targets but the Tories are encouraging fracking, which takes gas from underground rocks and is dangerous and polluting.”

If elected, Isabel Thurston would fight for improved, integrated public transport services and lower fares to help ease congestion on our busy roads. She does not believe that building more roads is a solution, since this encourages more cars.

To improve our local economy we could lead the way with a state of the art transport system.

Another issue the Greens are clear on is the need for new, affordable housing. This must be designed with local communities and not left to developers.

Isabel added: “It goes without saying that all new housing should be built to the highest environmental standards and in sympathy with its setting.”

For rural and small businesses, the Green Party also has good news as they are committed to supporting sustainable farming and keeping local towns thriving by, for example, standing up to supermarkets over pricing, changing unfair business rates and giving local authorities power to prevent chain stores taking over local shops.

If you would like to find out more about how Isabel Thurston would work to improve the quality of life in the Arundel and South Downs area, please email her at Isabelthurston@myphone.coop or follow her on Twitter:

@isabelthurston

Christopher Wellbelove: Labour

I have a strong track record of working with communities. 

I have been an elected councillor since 2006, and a former mayor, with a special interest in using technology to improve public services and involve residents in decisions that affect them.

I have served as a governor of a successful primary school, and vice-chairman of governors for a major higher education college.

I was a director of a charity that donates more than £1 million a year to help people out of poverty and into work.

I have also been employed for over 17 years in a leading global telecommunications company, where my role is to help organisations use social media to engage with their customers and local communities.

I am an effective campaigner, leading fights to save a local swimming pool, put more police on the beat, and have recently led a successful Labour campaign to save a fire station that was under threat of closure from government funding cuts.  

I believe that Arundel and South Downs needs a strong voice standing up for the local people and have been leading Labour’s campaign against Tory cuts to local police and other essential services across the constituency.